Head of a Woman (Tête de femme)
Inv. No. St. P 393 (property of the Städelscher Museums-Verein e.V.)
In this woman’s head, much larger than life-size, separate individual forms combine to form a powerful unified presence. The model for the portrait was Marie-Thérèse Walther, Picasso’s companion from 1930 onward. The sculpture, whose smooth, convex surfaces invite the observer to view it from all sides, was first created as a construction of plaster and wood. As in his early sculptures after 1909, the artist was attracted by the process of composition using separate masses. In doing so, he radically diverged from the academic models around him and instead sought inspiration in non-European cultures, here in illustrations of a Japanese gigaku mask of the eighth century.